John Stewart Bryan was the nineteenth President of William & Mary, serving from 1934-1942. On the event of his inauguration, his children presented him with a guestbook for use at the President’s House. The guestbook’s cover is embossed with the college seal and titled “Guests of John Stewart Bryan at the College of William & Mary.” Visitors from near and far passed through during Bryan’s years as President. In addition to documenting individual visits, the guestbook also provides the signatures of folks who stopped by during specific events, including Charter Day, Homecoming, and the ceremony to reinter the remains of President Thomas R. Dew in the Wren crypt in April 1939.
The first person to sign the guestbook was President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, followed by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. They attended the ceremonies to mark Bryan’s inauguration, and FDR received an honorary degree.
Other recognizable signatures include Cary T. Grayson, John D. and Abby Rockefeller, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Frank Lloyd Wright. Some visitors just signed their names, but others, such as Frank Lloyd Wright, provided additional inscriptions, or even drew out a partial music score – twice! – as did the Kedroff Quartet.